Organizations gather for PERIOD’s Day of Action

The organizations hosted raffles and offered free food, merchandise and information.

A student writes in chalk near the Bell Tower on Oct 21 for PERIOD’s day of action. | CARA KISHTER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Alexandra Davatzes, an earth and environmental science professor, sat on the pavement with her daughter Lily sketching illustrations of pads and tampons, with captions like “I heart periods” at PERIOD’s day of action at the Bell Tower on Saturday.

“It’s important to talk about [periods], like half the population goes through it,” said Lily Davatzes, a 14-year-old high school student.

The rally, which was originally planned for Oct. 14 but postponed due to rain, commemorated the National Period Day of Action, a holiday dedicated to ending period poverty. Temple’s chapters of The Accountability Initiative, Planned Parenthood, the American Medical Student Association and Student Activists Against Sexual Assault tabled at the rally alongside Penn Reproductive Justice, campus ambassadors for Bumble and Temple Student Government.

The rally advocated for those facing period poverty, a lack of access to menstrual products. The groups called on Temple to offer hygiene products in all bathrooms across Main Campus. Speakers also emphasized the importance of reducing the stigma that periods are shameful or dirty.

Twenty-three percent of students have struggled to afford period products, according to a May 2021 study commissioned by PERIOD, the national organization Temple’s chapter is a part of that works to combat period poverty.

The delay prevented the rally’s keynote speaker, Lynette Medley, founder and CEO of No More Secrets, a period advocacy group in Philadelphia, from speaking at the event and forced PERIOD Temple co-presidents Bella Bentivogli and Allanah Nelligan to rework their plans. 

“I think it was ultimately for the better that it got delayed a little bit because I know we were a little more panicking so having this extra week to keep working on stuff was kind of helpful,” said Nelligan, a junior secondary education major.

The rally was initially planned to advocate for the passage of Pennsylvania House Bills 850 and 851, which would increase menstrual hygiene product access for SNAP recipients and public school students, respectively. House Bill 850 passed on final passage in June, but has yet to be voted on by the state Senate.

Students gather for a group photo at the Bell Tower Oct 21 during PERIOD’s day of action. | CARA KISHTER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Gopiga Dass, community outreach coordinator for PERIOD Temple, opened the event shortly after 1 p.m. by welcoming attendees and thanking the organizations involved. 

Dass, a sophomore biology major, then introduced Halle Howard, director of basic needs at TSG. Howard spoke of TSG’s recent collaboration with PERIOD to place menstrual hygiene products in all bathrooms on campus.

Howard thinks collaborations like these are important to TSG so the organization can better represent student needs, she said. 

“Temple Student Government is here for the students,” said Howard, a senior history major, “We are here to support you guys with all of your initiatives, all of your goals.”

As Howard concluded, Antoilyn Nguyen, a coordinator at Penn Reproductive Health, took the stage to advocate for increased access to menstrual products. Nguyen shared their personal experience not having access to period products at a young age and emphasized the products are a human right.

Penn Reproductive Health reached out to PERIOD at Temple to support the rally after Nguyen, who works with PERIOD’s national organization, heard about the event.

“I think it’s important that groups around Philadelphia that support reproductive justice stand in solidarity with each other and are able to support each other,” said Nguyen, a junior gender, sexuality and women’s studies major at Penn.

Jennifer Keown, a campus ambassador for Bumble, then spoke about Bumble’s advocacy for period products. Bumble has donated more than a million dollars to period poverty as a part of their equality and women’s rights advocacy.

Graysen Gill, SAASA’s events coordinator, also gave a speech about the importance of reducing negative stigma surrounding menstruation and increasing access to menstrual products.

Gill’s speech was followed by a message from Rosie Keesey, president of Next Gen Planned Parenthood at Temple. 

“Planned Parenthood is really all about keeping people healthy at its core,” said Keesey, a senior public relations major. “And period poverty is something that affects a lot of women and nearly half of the population has a period.”

Keesey’s speech concluded the rally’s opening speakers, as attendees began to cycle through the wide spectrum of student organizations tabling the event. Attendees created chalk illustrations of menstrual products and uteruses with messaging like “Let me bleed in peace” written alongside them. 

The organizations hosted raffles and offered free food, merchandise and information. The Accountability Initiative’s table even offered a deal: pledge to vote in exchange for a free donut.

“I think it’s important to show up for the community because there are so many great things that people are doing on campus, [PERIOD] is just one example,” said Andrew Ankamah Jr, a 2023 political science alumnus and founder of TAI. “Although our missions aren’t exactly the same, they’re still doing great work on campaigns and spreading a positive message.”

Students from Philadelphia and national organizations rallied at the Bell Tower Oct 21 for PERIOD’s day of action. | CARA KISHTER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Bentivogli and Nelligan concluded the event with a speech thanking attendees and urging them to advocate for those experiencing period poverty.

“It is on us to call into attention the issue a period of poverty in our community and to call on those who have the power to help do what they can in our community,” Nelligan said. “Make your voices heard.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.